Tanzania’s president, John Magufuli has indirectly admitted that his country has a COVID-19 problem after months of denying saying it had been defeated by prayer.
Tanzania has not updated its number of coronavirus infections since April as the president has insisted COVID-19 had been defeated.
While the official number of confirmed coronavirus cases remains at 509, citizens claim that many people have become ill with breathing difficulties, and hospitals have seen a rise in patients diagnosed with “pneumonia”.
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Speaking during a Sunday church mass in the capital Dodoma, President John Magufuli urged citizens of the East African country to take precautions and wear face masks, but only locally made ones.
Following his address, the health ministry issued a statement also calling on people to wear face masks and wash their hands to prevent COVID-19 infections.
Magufuli’s remarks came after the World Health Organization (WHO)’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had urged Tanzania to take “robust action” to tackle the outbreak in the country as “the situation remains very concerning”.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ call for action came after a number of Tanzanians travelling to neighbouring countries and beyond tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a statement issued by the WHO.
When Magufuli’s chief secretary died in recent days, though the cause was not revealed, the president urged the nation to participate in three days of prayer for unspecified “respiratory” illnesses that had become a challenge to the country.
More: Al Jazeera